Row over Andaman's National Highway to end soon

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Port Blair, Apr 13 (UNI) The controversial issue of handing over of Andaman's lone National Highway to Border Road Organisation is expected to end soon, with the BRO expressing failure to carry out the said work in the islands.

Earlier, the Andaman and Nicobar Administration, as well as the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highway, had decided to hand over the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) to BRO, creating ripples among the local residents of the islands.

Political parities, NGOs, and various Associations of the islands were demanding the retention of the maintenance and repairing work to Andaman PWD, which according to them would not only create job opportunities for the islands' youths but also strengthen the local economy of the remote archipelago.

On March 27, Joint Director of Directorate General, Border Roads, Lt Col J B Singh submitted a letter to the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highway and sent a copy to the Chief Secretary of the administration.

In his letter the Joint Director had mentioned that the BRO was not in a position to take up the work of NH-223 (Andaman Trunk Road) as the department was "committed heavily on GS Road&Indo-China roads".

The letter indicated that the BRO was now clearly not interested in taking up the work of ATR, which was basically, the baby of the PWD.

The 340-km ATR, which cuts through the Jarawa Tribal Reserve in two places, connects the South Andaman with the Middle and North Andaman.

Political parties supporting to keep ATR with the PWD, are waiting for the final decision on the road.

If ATR goes to any alien agency, youths of these islands would lose employment opportunities, funds coming to these islands would go back to the mainland and local economy would suffer, Manoranjan Bhakta, the lone Member of Parliament of the islands told mediapersons here.

UNI SKR LL SW BST2110

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